Attorney General Mark Brnovich Reminds Consumers of Their Rights as Airline Travelers

PHOENIX – Many Arizonans will be traveling to spend time with family and loved ones this holiday season. Unfortunately, airlines often do not make consumers’ interests a priority. Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants to make sure Arizonans know their legal rights. If you believe you have been improperly denied a refund or compensation by an airline, you can file a consumer complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation here.
Under current federal law, state attorneys general are preempted from enforcing consumer protection laws against airlines. Attorney General Brnovich has been a steadfast advocate for airline consumers and has asked Congress to change that misguided policy.  Not surprisingly, to date, Congress has not done so.  Attorney General Brnovich will continue to advocate that Congress allow state attorneys general to protect airline customers. 

“There’s no place like home for the holidays,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Airlines must be held to account to make sure consumers’ rights are upheld, and travelers should not lose money due to circumstances beyond their control.”

When a flight is canceled or significantly delayed, federal law requires airlines to provide refunds to passengers who cancel their trip as a result. This is true even for non-refundable tickets. Passengers also are entitled to refunds for any bag fees or extras that were purchased.     
Airlines are also only legally required to compensate for outside expenses when a passenger is involuntarily “bumped” from an oversold flight.  Some airlines will provide compensation for long delays.  If you face a long delay, check with your airline about possible options regarding amenities or changing flights. If the airline offers a voucher for future travel instead of a refund, ask the airline about any restrictions that may apply, such as blackout and expiration dates, advanced booking requirements, and limits on the number of seats.   
Here are other instances where passengers are entitled to a refund or other compensation:

  • Passengers who are involuntarily moved to a lower class of service are entitled to the difference in fares.
  • Passengers who paid for optional services, but can't use them because the flight is canceled or changed, are entitled to a refund of the fees for any unused services.
  • Passengers who paid a baggage fee are entitled to a refund of that fee if the airline declares the baggage lost, as well as some compensation for the lost items.
  • Airlines, with a few exceptions, must repair or reimburse passengers for damage to baggage that occurs while the bag is under the airline’s control during transportation.
  • To learn more about what to do in the event of lost, delayed, or damaged bags, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation

For a detailed explanation of air traveler rights, please visit the Department of Transportation’s “Fly Rights” page.
Previous related press releases: 
AG Brnovich Urges Congress to Adopt New Consumer Protections Before Additional Bailouts to the Airline Industry
AG Brnovich Joins Antitrust Lawsuit Against American Airlines and JetBlue